Thursday, 9 April 2015

Chapter one (segment four), twenty four years earlier, April, Yukio

Later that day something was still troubling Yukio. He brought his lunch to their classroom and approached Urufu-kun. They seated themselves on opposite sides of Yukio's desk, making good use of their status as geek and loner friend. Chances were they wouldn't get disturbed. After all, geekiness might be contagious.

“Isn't this a bit too underhanded for you?” Yukio asked, referring to their conversation that morning. “The club and Ageruman-san,” he added to make Urufu-kun get the connection.

They sat in silence while he allowed his friend to muse over the question. Scattered sounds of conversations in the classroom reached him while he waited for an answer. It was, he noted absent-mindedly, emptier here than at the start of the year. Wakayama-san, and later, Ageruman-san were the obvious reasons for their classmates to be elsewhere. 3:1 was probably crammed beyond capacity.

“Underhanded, yes, wrong, no. No one gets hurt,” Urufu-kun finally answered. “Club or no club, guys will make passes at Christina anyway.”

After making sure no one had noticed whom they were talking about Yukio shot Urufu-kun a long glare.

“Sure, I'm selfish, I admit that. Still, it's not wrong. I'm planning to make this a club for the benefit of its members. I'm honest about that part.” Urufu-kun removed his glasses and played with them in his hands.

“And,” Yukio said, fishing for more.

“And,” Urufu-kun agreed, “I want to find out what happened to me. Some kind of anchor in Sweden could help me with that. So you're right about that part.”

“Look, you went hiking in what passes for the Alps in Sweden, got caught in a freak snowstorm and wound up in our Alps.”

Yukio watched the glasses pass from hand to hand in front of him. They served no purpose other than giving Urufu-kun the occasional headache. He had perfect eyesight. Well, they helped keep up the illusion of membership in geek squad, Yukio thought as Urufu-kun returned them over his nose.

“About sums it up, disregarding a sudden loss of 35 years, and the fact that the older me has never existed.” Urufu-kun grinned back.

The conversation had been interspersed with English whenever Urufu-kun's Japanese was too poor to convey some concepts. You're changing, and in doing so, you're changing me, Yukio thought while he waited for Urufu-kun to continue.

“And how can a club help me to understand? That's your real question, isn't it?”

Yukio nodded

“I don't know, but I have to do something,” Urufu-kun continued. "Look, it even gives her a way to speak Swedish if it comes to that.”

“If it comes to what?” Yukio teased.

This time Urufu-kun's face went all the way to a deep tomato red. Yukio knew the reason wasn't any ulterior motives, but rather the thought of ulterior motives. Urufu-kun was funny that way. One reason why he made such a good friend.

A right way, and a wrong one. No simple truths, because truth was relative. Still, a right way, and a wrong one. Urufu-kun, a contradiction in terms walking on two legs.

In the end, after school, they agreed upon one week. If, in one week, Christina still hadn't joined a club, and Yukio had gathered enough courage to approach Takeida-san, he would venture over to 3:1 and ask not one, but two questions.

“Be honest with your feelings,” Urufu-kun had said, “but suggest starting out as friends. That's the lesser commitment. Still, she should know where your real interests lie. She'll know what you want, but it'll be less awkward this way, and you can let things proceed from there.”

After that promise they parted ways. Urufu-kun unlocked his bike and wheeled down the street.

Yukio watched as Urufu-kun's back vanished behind an office building. I wonder what's on your mind.

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